Photo Credit: John Sullivan

Willow Run has a deep history of innovation and was initially built by Henry Ford as an advanced aircraft manufacturing facility during World War II. It was redeveloped by General Motors in the 1950s as a powertrain plant that operated until 2010.

Riveting a center wing section for a B-24E (Liberator) bomber in the horizontal position at Ford’s big Willow Run plant.  National Archives and Records Administration, 196387.

Now, it will become the premiere national facility for mobility and advanced automotive testing and product development.

The center is uniquely positioned to accommodate the broad needs of industry and government with its capabilities to test vehicles, roads, infrastructure and communication systems, while providing room to grow and adapt as technology dictates. The site comes with a number of desirable features and structures already in place including double overpasses, a railroad crossing and a highway loop to test at sustained highway speeds. Testing can occur during all four seasons, day and night, in sun, rain, ice and snow. These elements help to create the perfect environment for testing and setting national standards for mobility technologies before vehicles and other products are deployed. The center will also serve as a development facility that will allow companies to lease space for office and research use, garages and other amenities.

The American Center for Mobility will expand the region’s business incubation and acceleration capabilities while bringing great economic opportunity to southeast Michigan and the United States.

The reactivation of the Willow Run site reinforces Michigan’s global position as the automotive leader while creating new innovations that will drive the future of mobility.

American Center for Mobility Open for Testing

YPSILANTI TWP., Mich., Dec. 13, 2017 – The American Center for Mobility (ACM) has opened its state-of-the-art proving grounds for testing this week, with Visteon Corporation and Toyota Research Institute on site to begin testing operations, and others scheduling for next week.

Located on the 500-acre historic Willow Run site in Ypsilanti Township, ACM is a global center for testing and validation, product development, education and standards work for connected and automated vehicles (CAV) and other technologies.

“We are excited to be open for testing and to have our Founders already leveraging the assets of this facility,” said John Maddox, President and CEO of the Center. “We have been moving rapidly, and along with good input from our Founders, a great deal of work has gone into developing this site. Opening our doors is just the beginning as we continue to develop the American Center for Mobility into a global hub for CAV and future mobility technologies to put self-driving cars on America’s roads safely.”

The U.S. DOT designated proving grounds provides a myriad of real-world environments with the ability to test under varied, yet controlled conditions. Its unmatched range of driving environments and infrastructure includes a 2.5-mile highway loop, a 700-foot curved tunnel, two double overpasses, intersections and roundabouts.

“Just as Michigan put the world on wheels, today we are leading the way in the mobility revolution,” said Governor Rick Snyder. “The American Center for Mobility will be the place where innovations go from the drawing board to the open road. With ACM open for testing we are taking one giant step in the right direction to affirm Michigan’s place as the undisputed leader in mobility.”

On Monday, December 11, Visteon began testing the implementation of autonomous highway functionality for its DriveCore™ autonomous driving platform in challenging conditions – one of Southeast Michigan’s first snowfalls. Focus areas for Visteon’s testing and validation at ACM include autonomous driving algorithms; vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology and functionality, integrated with autonomous driving; sensor technology; and, security protocols.

Toyota engineers were at the site today, Dec. 13, to begin orientation and driver’s training.

Testing will occur during all four seasons, day and night, in sun, rain, ice and snow. These elements help to create the perfect environment for testing and developing voluntary national standards for mobility technologies before vehicles and other products are deployed onto public roads.

“The American Center for Mobility is a place where life-changing technology will be tested and validated efficiently and safely, and we are proud Michigan is a global leader in this field and a hub of mobility innovation,” said Jeff Mason, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Since the summer, ACM has been working with Intertek, its operations and maintenance partner, to make sure the necessary and unique AV protocols, procedures and operations were created and implemented to support safe testing.

While founders AT&T, Visteon, Toyota, Ford and Hyundai America Technical Center Inc., have initial priority for testing at the proving grounds, ACM is also available to other companies looking to take advantage of access to automated vehicle proving grounds. For more information on testing at ACM, please email ralph.buckingham@intertek.com.

To date, $110 million has been secured to construct the first two phases, and additional private investment announcements are expected soon.
The opening of ACM comes just over a year after the groundbreaking on this historic site, where B-24 bombers were made during World War II and which will also be home to the National Museum of Aviation and Technology at historic Willow Run.

Construction on the first phase of the project began in May 2017 by Michigan-based Angelo Iafrate Construction Company. The next phase of construction will begin in the spring of 2018 and will feature an urban driving environment, followed by ACM headquarters and a tech park.

The American Center for Mobility is designed to enable technology and to accelerate the development of voluntary standards to improve transportation systems and ensure U.S. competitiveness worldwide. The Center is available for use by private industry, government, standards bodies and academia and serves as a technology hub, allowing companies to lease office space, garages, and other amenities. There is also the opportunity for additional economic investment by companies looking to expand existing or build new facilities close to the testing ground.

The Center is a joint initiative with the State of Michigan founded in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the University of Michigan, Business Leaders for Michigan and Ann Arbor SPARK.

ACM is part of PlanetM, a collaborative that represents Michigan’s unique and vast ecosystem, connecting resources and opportunities for its consortium of members. Made up of private industry, government and institutions of higher learning, partners in PlanetM share the common goal of leading the development of smart solutions that will change the way people and goods are transported across all modes of transportation. To learn more about how Michigan is leading the transportation revolution or to become a member, visit PlanetM. To learn more about ACM, visit www.acmwillowrun.org.

Editor’s Note: To watch Visteon testing at the American Center for Mobility visit http://bit.ly/2AQWy2T. To use photos of Visteon testing, as well as aerial photos of the American Center for Mobility visit https://webcargo.net/l/1AsC0H7ZJ9/.

American Center for Mobility Media Contact:
Tracey L. Shavers Jr.
248-203-8662
tshavers@webershandwick.com

Past Releases:

American Center for Mobility announces Intertek will serve as its operations and maintenance partner

Visteon Partners with American Center for Mobility as Founding Member, Driving Development of Autonomous Vehicles

Hyundai America Technical Center Invests $5 Million in American Center for Mobility

American Center for Mobility Leads Collaborative Effort on Education, Workforce Development with 15 Michigan Colleges and Universities

American Center for Mobility Issues Request for Partnership to Develop HQ, Labs

Ford Motor Co. pledges $5 million to support the American Center for Mobility

U.S.​ ​DOT​ ​New​ ​Automated​ ​Driving​ Systems​ ​Guidance​ ​in​ ​Alignment​ ​with American​ ​Center​ ​for Mobility

Toyota to Collaborate with the American Center for Mobility

American Center for Mobility CEO Testifies on Self-Driving Vehicles for U.S. Senate Committee

American Center for Mobility signs agreements with Institute of Transportation Engineers, SAE International in effort to fast-track connected, automated vehicle standards

Angelo lafrate Construction Company awarded $24 million contract for connected, automated vehicle test bed

American Center for Mobility designated by US Department of Transportation as national automated vehicle proving ground

AT&T and the American Center for Mobility Fuel the Future of Automated Driving

Snyder and Michigan celebrate American Center for Mobility groundbreaking at Willow Run (PDF)

The American Center for Mobility Supports Federal AV Guidance (PDF)

Agreement Reached on Willow Run Purchase (PDF)